Gimme Shelter is a drama film that debuted on October 17, 2013 at the Heartland Film Festival.
When the film opens, we are introduced to Agnes “Apple” Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens), who snips all of her hair off and decides to make a mad dash for freedom. She jumps into a waiting taxi, but is soon thrown out because she does not have enough money to cover the fare. She takes a Greyhound bus to her biological father’s, Tom Fitzpatrick (Brendan Frazier), house, but is soon apprehended by the cops for trespassing. Tom arrives home, just in time to save her from being taken to the police department. He feeds her and she asks him for a place to stay, until she gets a job.
Tom’s wife, Joanna (Stephanie Szostak), and his kids are not so accepting of Agnes’s presence. Tom tells her that they are willing to help her, but they need to contact her social worker first. She refuses and gives them a brief history lesson on her life in the federal welfare system. She begins exhibiting signs of morning sickness. June gives her a home pregnancy test, then takes her to the a medical clinic, where it is revealed that she is indeed pregnant. While Agnes is having an ultrasound, June takes off leaving her alone.
Tom is willing to help Agnes get on her feet, which Joanna agrees to, as well, but not unless she aborts the baby. June transports her to an abortion clinic, but Agnes becomes so overwhelmed, while waiting for the doctor, she runs away. She ends up on the streets all alone, cold, and hungry. She spends the night in an unlocked car, then she eats food out of a trash dumpster. She is approached by a black man in a SUV, who tries to force her into his vehicle. She hijacks the SUV, but does not get very far, before she crashes into a building. She ends up in a hospital, where she meets Father Frank McCarthy (James Earl Jones), the hospital chaplain. He gives her a pinwheel and some suggestions on how she can get help. Her abusive mother, June (Rosario Dawson), shows up to try to talk Agnes into returning back home with her, but she refuses. She agrees to go with McCarthy to an unwed, pregnant mother’s home. She is forced to share a room with Cassandra “Cassie” (Emily Meade), who likes to break the shelter’s rules.
Agnes becomes upset, when she finds out that June refuses to give permission for her to stay at the shelter. The girls decide to go on a search through the home owner’s, Kathy (Ann Dowd), office where they find their personal files, which hold great details about the girl’s history. June continues to show up every so often to try and force Agnes to come back home, she even goes so far as to use physical force, but is still unsuccessful in trying to persuade her into changing her mind.
During a christmas celebration Agnes places the pinwheel that Father gave her on the top of the tree. Se finds out, during an examination that she is going to have a girl. Cassie leaves the home, but not before she tries to encourage Agnes to go with her, which she politely refuses. After giving birth, Tom shows up, but she refuses to see him. She receives a letter from Hope’s father, which explains why he cannot be a part of the baby’s life.
Will Agnes be able to raise her baby and live a normal life, without the interference of June?
Gimme Shelter is an all too familiar, heartwarming story about an abused teenager, who is determined to escape the clutches of her abusive mother. I am sure that many young girls can relate this movie. Her father for some reason was not in her life, as a child, but he desperately wanted to make up for lost time by trying to help her, but time was not on their side. Too bad more people are not like Kathy, who tried desperately to help young, unwed mothers from becoming a victim of the dark world of drugs and prostitution, which is exactly what happens to young mothers that do not have any family support.
Vanessa Hudgens did very well in her role, but no one else really stood out. The screenplay was well written and held my attention throughout. This film is based on a true story, which makes the story seem too good to be true. I would have liked to seen more scenes that focused on how Agnes made her way to the shelter and her struggle of living on the streets. Gimme Shelter deserves a 7.5 out of 10.